Bernie Ecclestone goes on trial in Germany on Thursday facing bribery charges which could bring to an end his reign as F1's commercial rights holder.

It is understood that Ecclestone will appear from the start of the trial, which will take place in Munich. Ecclestone is accused of paying a $44million (?26m) bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to help ensure a stake in F1 was sold to a company he favoured - CVC Capital Partners - in 2006.

While Ecclestone admits making a payment to Gribkowsky - who was found guilty of bribery and tax evasion and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2012 - he says it was a result of "a sophisticated shakedown" and denies wrongdoing.

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In the closing remarks following Gribkowsky's conviction, the State prosecutor said Ecclestone was "not the victim of an extortion but the accomplice in an act of bribery".

Ecclestone faced more damaging comments following a High Court battle earlier this year, despite seeing a judge rule in his favour when German media company Constantin Medien made a claim for damages of up to $140million (?83m) as it felt its shares were undervalued during the 2006 sale of F1.

In his written findings as part of that case, Mr Justice Newey said: "The payments were a bribe. They were made because Mr Ecclestone had entered into a corrupt agreement with Dr Gribkowsky on May 2005 under which Dr Gribkowsky was to be rewarded for facilitating the sale of BLB's shares in the F1 Group to a buyer acceptable to Mr Ecclestone."

While, perhaps more significantly, the judge also said: "Even making allowances for the lapse of time and Mr Ecclestone's age, I am afraid that I find it impossible to regard him as a reliable or truthful witness."

The implications for both Ecclestone and the future of F1 could be huge, with CVC co-chairman Donald Mackenzie having previously said that Ecclestone - the man who has built F1 in to a huge commercial success over the last 40 years - would be fired if he was found to have committed a criminal offence.

The trial is set to be held over two days each week and run until late in the year in order to allow Ecclestone to continue in his role running F1 on a day-to-day basis.